Diamond Valley Lake Part 3

The West Side of the North Hills Trail

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After a fun hike out and back starting from the east trailhead of the North Hills Trail, outlined in yellow on the map above, Jeff and I decide to find the west trailhead. As we head west on Domenigoni Parkway, we also notice a sign directing us to the Diamond Valley Lake Viewpoint. However, like so many signs and trail markers, the directions are vague and insufficiently marked. But Jeff and I don’t give up. Actually we stumble upon it from Winchester Road only to find out the Viewpoint is not open.  But aha, we also find the trailhead for the North Hills Trail. Not discouraged, we return a few days later when we can explore both.


After registering at a guard house and driving up a winding road, another guard greets us at the Clayton A. Record Jr. Viewpoint.

Clayton was a 4th generation San Jacinto native, a dairy farmer, businessman, community leader, and an elected official who helped develop regional water policy.  Before the Metropolitan Sewer District of Southern California began constructing the reservoir known as Diamond Valley Lake in 1995, Clayton spent many mornings on a bench here, gazing out at the trickling waters from Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio. The Viewpoint was dedicated in 2002 to commemorate his service and leadership.  (dvlake.com)

No dogs are allowed here and accessing the Lakeview Trail is prohibited.

On foot we spiral up to the top and enjoy the scenery of Hemet down below. A compass rose gives us our bearings.

Mt. San Jacinto is to the east.

To the north is Mt. San Gorgonio and the Domenigoni Hills of the North Hills Trail.

The Saddle Dam can also be seen in the picture above. This dam was built to increase the storage capacity of the lake. It rises 130 feet above the lowest point of the Domenigoni Hills ridgeline and is .5 miles long. The inlet/outlet tower controls the amount of water in the reservoir. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

To the south are more hills and a great view of the West Dam.

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Just below the dam is the forebay and the pumping station.

We enjoy the scenery…

…and head to the West Trailhead of the North Hills Trail.


The parking area is huge and beautiful, filled with picnic areas and lots of places to tie up horses. I’m not sure why.

But the hike starts out crossing an aqueduct…

…and leads to a dry grassy area that runs parallel to the water canal. It is difficult to walk through and the mile markers are confusing. Not sure where the “trail” is leading, we alternate between staying the course that hugs the boundary fencing and climbing the steep incline to the gravel road that follows the aqueduct.

After a mile or so, we cross the irrigation canal again and head toward the hills. At last the trail looks promising and is easy to follow and well marked.

Our goal is to get near the halfway point leading to the overlook of the lake.

We start to encounter dams of tumbleweeds blocking the trail and manage to plunge through them, until finally we reach an impassable thicket.

We are tired of dealing with the disappointments of the trail, especially of the reality of having to return this way again.

Discouraged, we cut our losses and head back. Bummer…

Oak Glen

38201D13-3AD7-4620-B5CE-1FB6561B8901 Mile High Fun for Everyone

Oak Glen is a 5 mile loop of historic apple orchards, scenic landscapes, unique shops,   family-friendly restaurants, fragrant bakeries, and living history sites.

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Located among the slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains, Oak Glen is uniquely surrounded by desert on all sides. But it is always 10 – 15 degrees cooler here than in the valleys and the mile-high climate provides beautiful changes of seasons. (http://www.oakglen.net)

Our neighbor, Allison, suggested we take a day-trip here since it is less than 25 miles from San Jacinto. Even though apple season runs from September through November, and we arrived at Diamond Valley RV Resort in the middle of November, Glen Oak is open all year, sort of. So we took her advice and drove up one day.


The red color in the hills is from the fire retardant used to control a recent fire that started from a car crash.

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Except for the mountains in the background, the scenery reminds us of  a fall day in New England:

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We stop at the Parrish Ranch store because it’s open on a weekday.

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We sample apples, cider, and apple butter. We leave with a bag of Cameo apples that don’t turn brown when sliced, apple butter, and apple butter barbecue sauce.

Enoch Kidder Parrish settled in Oak Glen in 1860 and was the first apple grower, planting an acre of apple trees in 1867. The store we visited was originally the packing shed and is the oldest wooden stick structure in San Bernardino County. (http://www.oakglen.net)


Our next stop is Oak Tree Village, 14 acres of family fun including  shows, shops, food, animals, pony rides, and train rides.

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The shops and restaurant are open but the family fun area is only open on weekends now.


Besides apples, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, watermelons, pears, and pumpkins are available for U-Pick.

Special events take place monthly from February through December.

And finally, Oak Glen is a popular “go to” destination for weddings. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were married at the Secret Garden venue located on Parrish Ranch in 2015 over the July 4th weekend.

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Diamond Valley Lake Part 2

North Hills Trail

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The North Hills Trail runs for 6.5 miles east and west and somewhat parallel to the Domenigoni Parkway, skirting the Diamond Valley Lakeview Trail. See the yellow line in the map above.

There is a dirt parking area at the East Trailhead and unlike the Marina, you can park here free. A donation box with envelopes for a $2 per person contribution is located in the parking lot. You simply fill in your name and vehicle information, enclose your cash, rip off the receipt to take with you, and slide it into the slit of the box. But the box is too full so we carry our cash and envelope with us.

Jeff thinks we are going to hike out for about 40 minutes and then turn back, however I have different plans. In 2.7 miles there is a Lake View Point to trek to and that is my goal.

I don’t take any pictures until we reach the View of Diamond Lake so I find some taken by other hikers.

I remember this marker well. It is looking back 1 mile out from the trailhead.

F5F091B2-81FB-4A0B-A3B4-42752942233D alltrails.com, courtesy of Chris Ibbeson, 1/13

After walking 2 miles the trail starts to climb and pull away from the highway.

6CFDB080-8849-4735-8F57-1FC42E617ACE alltrails.com, courtesy of Chris Ibbeson, 1/13

My eye is on the prize to reach the top so I cajole Jeff to go “just a little further” to the next bend and then another and then just one more. Meanwhile, we put one foot in front of the other to reach the top, gaining an elevation of some 500 feet.

669CBFB0-6372-4F9A-95D2-23DCF63481D1  alltrails.com, courtesy of Brian Johnston, 2017

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Halfway to the top a barbed wire fence separates us from the Lakeview Trail. Jeff and I remember passing this way on December 1st.

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And we continue climbing around the rim until we reach a wide-path detour…

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…and arrive at the overlook of the lake. There’s even a picnic table waiting there.

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All in all, a fun hike and a good workout.


Footnote: I dedicate this hike to my mother who passed away on this date 5 years ago. This one’s for you, mother!

Diamond Valley Lake Part 1

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Diamond Valley Lake is a man-made reservoir 4 miles southwest of the city of Hemet, CA. Its volume capacity is 800,000 acre-feet. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

According to watereducation.org, an acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover an acre of land, about the size of a football field, 1 foot deep. That is the equivalent of approximately 326,000 gallons of water.

Diamond Valley Lake is a domestic water supply source for drought, the peak of summer, and emergency needs.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California began construction of the reservoir in 1995. It took 4 years, from 1999 – 2003, to fill the lake with water supplied by the Colorado River Aqueduct. Today the Inland Feeder delivers water to Diamond Valley Lake. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

In our search for places to hike in the San Jacinto area, Jeff discovered DVL and its 21.8 mile trek for hikers and bikers around the lake.

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DVL is about 10 miles away from Diamond Valley RV Resort where we are parked for the winter months.

To access the trail along the lake, you have to park at the Marina and pay a $9 fee. An additional $2 per person hiking fee brings the total to $14. But we don’t mind. We’re giving back to the environment.

The trail is a litter-free wide dirt path that follows the outline of the lake. There is no drinking water available but port-a-potties are scattered about 5 miles apart. Now and then canopied shade stations appear, and depending upon the direction of the sun, they offer a reprieve. Fishing is allowed along a designated portion of the shoreline.

We enjoy an out and back hike of 5 1/2 miles.

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C6CE9910-B9D0-461E-A2FC-E9B94A553F0D                                                       a natural dried flower arrangement

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Looking back towards the marina, Mt. San Jacinto photo bombs the 2 pictures below:

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Any guesses as to what the circled object in this next picture is?

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Here’s a zoomed-in view:

BC678835-4A9A-4D8B-842D-C2126209140F Give up?

It’s a floating bathroom!

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

In the Coachella Valley Preserve

40D92AA1-EC2D-43FE-BF26-C110EB12C9BB en.m.wikipedia.org

Just minutes from Palm Springs and other desert cities in southeastern CA lies the Coachella Valley Preserve.

CC775A70-8271-4E61-8286-9B8958140803 bayhillway.com

D8A3FC46-F327-438C-9165-5EDD6C014ABB fws.gov

According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, usgs.gov, the Preserve is located along strands of The San Andreas Fault System between the cities of Palm Springs and Indio. The California Nature Conservancy purchased the first 1,920 acres. With the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Preserve expanded to 17,000 acres of desert dune fields and palm forests. Over 1,500 California fan palms are fed by springs rising along parallel fault  strands emanating from The San Andreas Fault. Clustered into 6 groves, the main palm groves of the Preserve are called the Thousand Palms Oasis.

56216E41-8000-40FE-94F1-7418CE50E1AE 3dparks.wr.usgs.gov

Today the Center for Natural Lands Management, CNLM, manages Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve in the Coachella Valley Preserve to protect and conserve an ecological habitat for the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard. In 1980 the federal government listed the lizard as a threatened species. (CNLM brochure)

10903F5B-8A48-4A34-81FC-A981A621DD75   coachellavalleypreserve.org                     

CNLM is a non-profit organization for the protection and management of natural resources. It’s main objective is to safeguard the native species and their habitat.


Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve comprises about 880 acres of the Coachella Valley Preserve. It is easy to get to from exit 131, Monterey Avenue, of Interstate 10. Take a right on Ramon Road for 3.5 miles and a left onto Thousand Palms Canyon Road.

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All of a sudden, a grove of palm trees appears.

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After driving 2 miles on Thousand Palms Canyon Road, we arrive at a small parking are. How small is small, you ask? Carpooling is recommended and RVs, campers, and 5th wheels are not allowed in the parking lot.

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I take a few pictures after we park and head toward the rustic Visitors’ Center.

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There is no entrance fee, donations are optional.


Although the Oasis is the hub for the 28 miles of hiking trails available in the Coachella Valley Preserve, the most popular hike is the McCallum trail, a 2 mile round trip excursion through a palm oasis, across an earthquake fault zone, and through a desert wash, ending at another oasis. (CNLM Trail Guide)

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C1F6ED5C-B073-4B3E-8968-A7B7335A5B27 desertroadkill.blogspot.com

034989FD-DCDE-461D-8371-B7801B5520E4 beginning of the McCallum Trail

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Looking up at the fan palm trees…

FEA6944F-842D-437F-9CC9-B470DF8AFF9E a pretty spectacular view

Fan Palms are the only native palm trees in California. With roots that barely reach down 8-12 feet, they can only grow where water is at or near the surface. These palms can grow up to 60 feet tall with leaves over 6 feet wide. Some of the larger trees in the Preserve may be 150 years old, but most are younger. The grassy brown hula skirts around the trees are actually dead fronds. (CNLM Trail Guide)

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In late spring the fan palm produces small fruits eaten by many birds and other animals.

Because of the presence of water, many water-loving plants thrive in the riparian biome of the oasis. Riparian refers to a river bank and is a wetlands area. Cattails, common reeds, arroyo willow, and salt grass are just some of the plant species providing food and cover for desert wildlife. (CNLM Trail Guide)

04907BB1-3EE3-4A5D-84E9-CC1FC32223E7 salt grass

Leaving the riparian forest, we encounter another biome: a desert wash. Plants living here need more water than those on the desert floor, but not as much as plants in the wetlands. (CNLM Trail Guide)

5B946317-5880-4A63-B405-79FC17CA3282 the desert wash

The creosote bush is the most common shrub found in North American deserts. (sign on trail)

3F1758E2-8663-410F-8E94-0BFB90DBFF6B creosote bush

The desert smoke tree’s ashy stems resemble a puff of smoke in the distance. (sign on trail)

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Arrow-weed is another species found in desert washes. Native Americans used the straight stems to make arrows. (sign on trail)

2E3F82A2-0CB9-4ACA-900D-F7F62F45A868                                                 pink flowers blossom in spring

Tamarisk trees, seen below, are non-native vegetation. Originally imported from the Mediterranean region, they are often used as windbreakers, marking old homesteads and homes in the desert. (sign on trail)

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The Coachella Valley Preserve is located on the Mission Creek trace of the San Andreas Fault, the famous and most visible earthquake fault. The San Andreas Fault stretches from California’s border with Mexico to just north of San Francisco, where it plunges into the Pacific Ocean. It extends somewhere between 700-800 miles and reaches at least 10 miles deep. Many smaller faults branch from it, so it is more of a linear fault zone as opposed to a single fault. The McCallum Trail runs on and parallel to the Mission Creek fault. (CNLM Trail Guide)

According to the sign along the trail, the bluff to the west has a mixture of exposed sand, gravel, and rock layers that are tilted. Who knew that was what I was looking at?

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According to earthquake.usgs.gov, a fault is a fracture along which the blocks of the earth’s crust, the outermost layer, on either side have moved relative to one another, parallel to the fracture. Below is a depiction of the right lateral strike-slip fault that runs along this trace.

83134925-97A8-440B-9F12-1231BEC554D5 earthquake.usgs.gov glossary

There has been no significant rupture of the Mission Creek trace in over 300 years, but the slip-rate on the fault is between 2.3 – 3.5 centimeters per year.

72515CD0-9DB8-43FD-8CE0-2496FD3D8BE4 play.google.com

Slippage along the fault is uneven, with some sections continuously moving a small amount, while other sections move more rapidly. (CNLM brochure)


The mountain ranges create a “rain-shadow” desert, which means the moisture-laden ocean air does not reach the desert floor. As wet air from the coast moves up over the mountains, it cools, falling as rain in the mountains, but bringing very little moisture to the valley itself. (CNLM Trail Guide)

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Approaching McCallum Oasis…

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This beautiful pond is formed by water seeping up along a trace of the earthquake fault.

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The inviting sitting area below is called “The Citadel”.

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The hula-skirt-like palm fronds provide homes for snakes, lizards, rodents, and black widow spiders. The rare yellow bat also roosts in the palm skirts while great horned owls peer out of the tops of the trees. (CNLM Trail Guide)

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We head back…

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Welcome to San Jacinto, CA

San Jacinto is one of the oldest cities in Riverside County and is named after Saint Hyacinth who died at the age of 12 in 108 AD.

0F8BC861-6B6F-4B0A-B4C1-BC8DD40833E0 en.m.wikipedia.org

Hyacinth was an early Christian who refused to participate in ceremonial sacrifices to the official Roman gods. Denounced as a Christian, he was imprisoned, scourged,  tortured, and finally only served meat which had been blessed for sacrifice to the gods. He eventually starved to death as he would not eat the meat of Roman gods.


The city of Hemet is south of San Jacinto and Beaumont is to its north. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, San Jacinto was a dairy and agricultural center. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

DBC89DF7-A04D-4EF9-BF95-2C913E0EC209 City-Data.com

F50483DB-12DA-4AEC-B0D5-92A94E3D399C bestplaces.net

Several dairy farms still exist today as evidenced by the annoying appearance of pesky flies and the intermittent whiffs of cow manure in the air.


The Anza Trail, one of the first European overland routes to California, crossed through the San Jacinto Valley in the 1770s.

A nearby street commemorates its name.

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Mission padres named the valley after Saint Hyacinth and established an outpost here in 1820.


The San Jacinto Valley is located at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains in the east and the Santa Rosa Hills to the south with the San Gorgonio Pass to the north. It is home to the cities of Hemet and San Jacinto.

Below is a picture of the San Jacinto Valley as seen from the San Jacinto Mountains. The bright street in the middle is Florida Avenue (State Highway 74) in Hemet.

AC5AA8D3-8DFA-4B28-BFEF-D08C4A5A9C7F en.m.wikipedia.org contributed by John Stroud


The valley is also the setting for a novel written by Helen Hunt Jackson who visited the area in the 1880s.

3C1DA17F-A192-4898-87F6-BBB9C0852B74 en m.wikipedia.org

Helen, a poet and writer (1830-1885), became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States government.

Her romance novel, Ramona written in 1884, dramatized the mistreatment of Native Americans in Southern California after the Mexican-American War.

91CC9978-0372-40FE-AD42-E793267B5B97 en.m.wikipedia.org

The novel’s sentimental portrayal of Mexican colonial life appealed to both readers and film producers.

In 1910 D.W. Griffith directed a 17 minute drama starring Mary Pickford. True to the book’s theme, the silent film explores racial injustice through a love story. Below is the film’s title credit. The subtitle reads A story of the White Man’s Injustice to the Indians.

C1325D2B-A95A-44F4-99B7-84EBF611DA50 en.m.wikipedia.org

Click here to view the opening sequence from TCM, Turner Classic Movies.

C2E91D33-BACA-48F2-A4B2-83121BD38B42 deadwrite.wordpress.com

In 1916 Donald Crisp directed 10-14 silent movie reels of Ramona, starring Adda Gleason. All but 5 reels are lost. These remaining reels are preserved at the Library of Congress. On April 6, 1916 the New York Times printed a movie review.

3BD3F64D-A923-42E0-86C7-642CB8B806D5 nytimes.com

Delores Del Rio starred in the 1928 silent film version of H. H. Jackson’s book.

D0CDAC84-23B3-493B-BDDF-01FE4261CA27 en.m.wikipedia.org

Mordaunt Hall, a film critic from The New York Times, praised the silent film as “an Indian love lyric” in his May 15, 1928 movie review.

In 1936 Loretta Young and Don Ameche starred in the first film adaptation of Ramona with sound.

83A446B1-5254-4873-8437-853BFBB56947 en.m.wikipedia.org

On October 7, 1936 film critic Frank S. Nugent posted his review in The New York Times praising the cinematography but finding issue with the plot as “a piece of unadulterated hokum about Lo, the poor half-Indian girl who fled a southern Californian hacienda with her chieftain’s son and was tragically victimized by the ruthless American land-grabbers.”

Lo refers to Ramona Lubo, after whom many claimed the novel was named…

D3527DD2-8F4B-408E-ABEB-4580D601E4BA en.m.wikipedia.org

The novel was also aired as a telenovela or Spanish soap opera in 2000.


On April 13, 1923 The Ramona Pageant premiered as an Outdoor Play in Hemet, CA. Staged annually, it is the longest running outdoor play in the United States. It is held over 3 consecutive weekends in April and May at the Ramona Bowl, a natural amphitheater.

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BC960463-0E07-4D64-8A15-907386B568AE tripadvisor.com

In 1959, 18-year-old Jo Raquel Tejada played the title role. We know her today as Raquel Welch.

2AB24AE2-306E-426D-9161-602C4D9C9098 pinterest.com

Ten years later, another famous actress starred as Ramona. Anne Archer was 21 years old.

B5A3AB28-CC16-4D3A-B005-5C8A26991E1D pe.com


Less than 4 miles out our RV door, where State Street turns into Gilman Springs Road, lies a heavily guarded compound of 50 buildings surrounded by trees and high fences topped with steel blades.

FA545D76-96DE-4A2C-981F-E0B3BC6FDE33 en.m.wikipedia.org

Patrols, cameras, and motion detectors keep watch 24/7. The property is bisected by the public road with cameras recording passing traffic. An underground tunnel runs across the street.

Below is an aerial view of the compound from the west.

244403B7-2ECD-48D5-A243-720A25F8B672 en.m.wikipedia.org

So, arriving at our San Jacinto snowbird destination at Diamond Valley RV Resort, Jeff and I exit Interstate 10 West in Beaumont, head south on CA 79, and exit onto Gilman Springs Road heading east. All of a sudden we encounter lush greenery amid the brown monotones of the mountains and desert. Peeking out are spiral columns topped with turrets, a gate house, beautiful blue buildings, a golf course, and what looks like a church.

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Are you as curious as I was? Let me give you some hints:

  1. A sign from the road reads, Golden Era Productions.
  2. It belongs to a church.
  3. Tom Cruise stayed and studied here in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
  4. Does L. Ron Hubbard ring any bells?

This lavish resort compound is Gold Base, the international headquarters, though not legally recognized as such, of the Church of Scientology.

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This land was well-known by local Native Americans for the natural hot springs bubbling from what is now known as the San Jacinto Fault. In 1890 Sydney Branch purchased this parcel and developed it into a resort and spa. In 1913 he sold this property to the Gilman brothers who further expanded the resort into a popular vacation retreat. By 1978 the Gilman Hot Springs had lost its popularity and went bankrupt.

With extreme secrecy, L. Ron Hubbard pays $2.7 million cash for the resort under the guise of a group of investors who called themselves the Scottish Highland Quietude Club. The new owners supposedly had a condominium project in mind, but Hubbard’s ulterior motive was to create his church headquarters here without anyone knowing it belonged to the Church of Scientology.

9C101699-7CE6-40A5-A9CC-B842F254F166 scientology.org

Why the intense secrecy? At the time, the Church was charged with a criminal conspiracy, called Operation Snow White, against the United States Government. Hubbard and his wife were accused of infiltrating and stealing unfavorable documents about Scientology in 30 countries.

72803514-2FF1-400B-AED5-62FB0D6C04EC Mary Sue and Ron Hubbard (scientologymoneyproject.com)

21387643-BBB5-49AB-AFB7-39BF49D7D8BA tonyortega.org, The Underground Bunker

 

For more information about Operation Snow White, check out this 1990 article from the LA Times. And to read what Scientology has to say, go to their Stand League website, Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination.

Hubbard went into hiding, eventually living in an undisclosed location in Hemet, code-named X. The Gilman Hot Springs property was code-named S, and no one in the Church could travel directly between the 2 locations. Instead, with all the drama of a spy movie, Gilman and his minions had to make indirect trips of 120 miles each way.

In 1980, however, a local reporter broke the story that Hubbard was living in Hemet and working at the Gilman location. So, literally overnight the base was converted into Golden Era Studios and presented to the world as the Church of Scientology’s media production facility. After conning the world into believing that the organization had an acceptable function, the international management was safe to return to Gold Base.

F45E91A5-E72B-432B-A20C-8971A601A9CA en.m.wikipedia.org

Ironically, L. Ron Hubbard never lived at the base. He authorized renovations on Bonnie View, a tutor-style house on the property, with the intentions of residing there. Unfortunately the original house had to be torn down. The almost $10 million mansion built to replace it was not finished until 2000 and Hubbard had already died in January of 1986. The mansion and his living quarters, however, are still maintained in anticipation of his reincarnation.

97B5BC68-E2E3-4AFE-B143-0BDE02F01AA5 whyweprotest.net

Today, David Miscavige, the Church’s current leader, lives and works on Gold Base with other Church officials.

89B2A7E3-DD19-43F8-BE65-4959614AAA46 scientologynews.org


Unless otherwise noted, the information from this blog came from Wikipedia. I have found this to be a reliable source, after checking its references time and time again, against other online sources of information. I now contribute a small yearly donation to its site organization.